Seated at last, you prepare to write, only to find yourself besieged with petty distractions.
All of a sudden you remember a friend you had promised to call, some double-
A batteries you were supposed to pick up, a neglected Coke (in another room)
growing warmer and flatter by the minute. If your paper is to be written, you have
only one course of action: collar these thoughts and for the moment banish them.
Here are a few tips for writing your rough draft:
m Review your argument- The shape of your argument, its support, and the
evidence you have collected will form the basis of your rough draft.
Get your thoughts down. The best way to draft a paper is to get your ideas
down quickly. At this stage, don’t fuss over details. The critical, analytical side
of your mind can worry about spelling, grammar, and punctuation later. For now,
let your creative mind take charge. This part of yourself has the good ideas,
insight, and confidence. Forge ahead. Believe in yourself and in your ideas.
• Write the part you feel most comfortable with first. There’s no need to
start at the paper’s beginning and work your way methodically through to the
end. Instead, plunge right into the parts of the paper you feel most prepared to
write. You can always go back later and fill in the blanks.
m Leave yourself plenty of space. As you compose, leave plenty of space
between lines and set enormous margins. When later thoughts come to you, you
will easily be able to go back and squeeze them in.
m Focus on the argument. As you jot down your first draft, you might not want
to look at the notes you have compiled. When you come to a place where a note
will fit, just insert a reminder to yourself such as “See card 19” or “See Aristotle on
comedy.” Also, whenever you bring up a new point, it’s good to tie it back to your
thesis. If you can’t find a way to connect a point to your thesis, it is probably better to
leave it out of your paper and come up with a point that advances your central claim.
• Does your thesis hold up? If, as you write, you find that most of the evidence
you uncover is not helping you prove your paper’s thesis, it may be that the
thesis needs honing. Adjust it as needed.
• Be open to new ideas. Writing rarely proceeds in a straight line. Even after
you outline your paper and begin to write and revise, expect to discover new
thoughts—perhaps the best thoughts of all. If you do, be sure to invite them in.
Here is a student’s rough draft for an analytical essay 011 “Nothing Gold Can Stay.”
On Robert Frost’s “Nothing Gold Can Stay”
Most of the lines in the poem “Nothing Gold Can
Stay” by Robert Frost focus on the changing of the
seasons. The poem’s first line says that the first
leaves of spring are actually blossoms, and the actual
leaves that follow are less precious. Those first
blossoms only last a little while. The reader realizes
that nature is a metaphor for a person’s state of mind.
People start off perfectly innocent, but as time passes,
they can’t help but lose that innocence. The poem argues
that like Adam and Eve we all lose our innocence and the
passage of time is inevitable.
The poem’s first image is of the color found in
nature. The early gold of spring blossoms is nature’s
“hardest hue to hold.” The color gold is associated with
the mineral gold, a precious commodity. There’s a hint
that early spring is nature in its perfect state, and
perfection is impossible to hold on to. To the poem’s
speaker, the colors of early spring seem to last only an
hour. If you blink, they are gone. Like early spring,
innocence can’t last.
The line “leaf subsides to leaf” brings us from
early spring through summer and fall. The golden
blossoms and delicate leaves of spring subside, or sink
to a lower level, meaning they become less special and
beautiful. There’s nothing more special and beautiful
than a baby, so people are the same way. In literature,
summer often means the prime of your life, and autumn
often means the declining years. These times are less
beautiful ones. “So dawn goes down to day” is a similar
kind of image. Dawns are unbelievably colorful and
beautiful but they don’t last very long. Day is nice,
but not as special as dawn.
The most surprising line in the poem is the one
that isn’t about nature. Instead it’s about human
beings. Eden may have been a garden (a part of nature),
but it also represents a state of mind. The traditional
religious view is that Adam and Eve chose to disobey God
and eat from the tree of knowledge. They could have
stayed in paradise forever if they had followed God’s
orders. So it’s surprising that Frost writes “So Eden
sank to grief” in a poem that is all about how
inevitable change is. It seems like he’s saying that no
matter what Adam and Eve had done, the Garden of Eden
wouldn’t stay the paradise it started out being. When
Adam and Eve ate the apple, they lost their innocence.
The apple is supposed to represent knowledge, so they
became wiser but less perfect. But the poem implies that
no matter what Adam and Eve had done, they would have
grown sadder and wiser. That’s true for all people. We
can’t stay young and innocent.
It’s almost as if Frost is defying the Bible,
suggesting that there is no such thing as sin. We can’t
help getting older and wiser. It’s a natural process.
Suffering happens not because we choose to do bad things
but because passing time takes our innocence. The real
original sin is that time has to pass and we all have to
grow wiser and less innocent.
The poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay” makes the point
that people can’t stay innocent forever. Suffering is
the inevitable result of the aging process. Like the
first leaves of spring, we are at the best at the very
beginning, and it’s all downhill from there.